Win a Mox Ruby - My first Vintage tournament!

Vintage – Win a Mox Ruby Edition – 06/01/2018

I was super psyched about this event as soon as I read the announcement, who wouldn’t want to win a piece of legendary Power 9? It was an awkward time of year however and I did not think I would make it. However, one of my closest friends was having his 30th Birthday celebrations literally down the road from the event the same evening! How could I not make the trip from Nelson for this double whammy!??

This was my first Vintage tournament EVER and I had only ever played one game with pre banned mentor VS pre banned Amethyst shops a few months before at Representationals 2017 in Wellington. This was part of the appeal. It made me think back to the first time I played Legacy, with Aaron Sewell’s Bant Blade deck whilst we were in Indianapolis for WMC and FNM Worlds (which happened once) The rush and excitement was real! It was a fresh perspective on a game I had loved for years already. I was hoping to have this same feeling again with Vintage...I booked my flight and dedicated a few nights to studying Vintage decklists and match videos.

So I get up at 5am, head to the airport, catch a 6:05 am flight to Auckland. I arrive at 7:30am and decide I will bus as my cousins have just been woken up by my phone call. I bump into David Brunton whilst waiting for the bus and we ride in together whilst catching up and having some good banter. I hung out with my Aunt and Uncle for a bit and luckily was fed a nourishing meal of Bacon and Eggs! I knew this would help me with the event. I got dropped off and headed into the venue.

It was great seeing some old and familiar faces as well as quite a few new and unfamiliar ones. I sit down to do a final check of my fully NON PROXIED list and decide I need a few different cards for sideboard. I ask around and feel I really need to find 2x more Containment Priest…I don’t, but a very generous and format supporting guy – Gary Freedman – offers to lend me a Unlimited Signed Lotus! This is such a great gesture and powers up my deck (literally) a lot, whilst keeping it real to be in the running for the ‘Real Deal’ door prize of a Beta Sol Ring…

Anyways, here is my list. I have recently switched into only having D&T in ‘all’ formats. I figured I could spice it up for Vintage with a hybrid of Thalia/Amethyst effects and powerful game ending Eldrazi. Plus, not playing blue in a format I have never played seems sensible.

20180106_155105.jpg

As irony would have it, I am paired against Gary the guy who lent me the lotus, in the first round. Then James announces that for the random prize Sol Ring, a dice will be rolled to determine a table number. Then if one player on that table has a real deck, they win it automatically. If neither player has a real deck, another table will be selected. If BOTH players have a REAL deck, then the winner of the match gets the Sol Ring. Anyway, OUR table number is rolled, and I get super excited!

20180106_112440.jpg

The reason I made my deck non-proxy, is coming to fruition. However, if he has lent me a lotus, I am pretty sure we must play the match! Here is what happened…

Gary Freedman – Blue multi 2 card combo brew

Game 1 I keep and he mulligans. Great start! I keep: Sol Ring, Phyrexian Revoker, Thalia 1.0, Eldrazi Displacer, Containment Priest, Thalia 2.0 and a white producing land. I'm on the draw. Gary plays land and passes. I draw and play land, sol ring and phyrexian revoker on black lotus. Gary plays turn 2 Bob. Basically, he draws nothing of relevance and unfortunately no more lands. I play guy after guy and displace the revoker naming whatever he played (like voltaic key) I beat him down and clinch my first game!

Game 2 and now I mulligan. Gary opens with Mox Pearl, Mox Jet, Dark Confidant and a Tropical Island and end of my turn 1 plays Brainstorm. WOW! Now this is Vintage! I don’t play anything turn one or two and it's sad times. His turn 2 and he plays Ancestral recall and then drops a hermit druid, this ain't looking good for me. Third turn I play a glowrider, but he is way too far ahead and then combos off with the typical dredge combo and attacks with a tonne of zombies and a zealot. GG!

Game 3 and we both mulligan. I keep: Wasteland, 2 Elvish Spirit Guide, 2 Thought-Knot Seer and Reality smasher. I scry and keep a Phyrexian Revoker  on top. This game is where I made a serious misplay which possibly cost me the whole match and the Sol Ring! I haven’t played Legacy in too long and as mentioned, never before Vintage. So turn 1 he plays Vamp Tutor EOT on mine then turn 2 drops hexmage. I drop my Phyrexian Revoker on my turn 2 and for some reason DO NOT name Vampire Hexmage! What an idiot! Anyway, his turn 3 and he drops Dark Depths and I'm like ‘Oh right, yeah so it’s a 20/20 indestructible..?’ Luckily I had sided in my 3 Swords to Plowshares, unluckily I did not top deck it in this instance and lose.

To be brutally honest, while the Sol Ring would have basically covered the cost of the trip up, I felt like Gary should have got it anyway for being such a trusting guy and willing to lend out cards worth thousands $$$ just to encourage and support his favourite format. Playing games with his lotus over the day felt better than owning an expensive Sol Ring (I think) Cheers Gary!

Chris Burrows – Abzan Veteran Explorer brew

I had no idea what Chris was playing, but I knew Chris was a nice guy and I would enjoy this match regardless.

Game 1 we both keep. I think he went first? He plays turn 1 Vet explorer. I play turn 1 spirit of the Labyrinth. He has a fairly non explosive hand with 2x Mental Missteps (which do nothing against me except my 1 sol ring) I turn 2 Glowrider. Turn 3 Thalia 2.0 Turn 4 swing into Vet explorer and get 2 plains into play and then play Thalia 1.0 and a Thought-Knot Seer. It was just a matter of bashing him down from here asap and I won.

Game 2 he mulligans, I keep. He plays turn 1 GSZ for a Dryad Arbor. I play land on my turn 1 and pass. He follows up turn 2 with a Vet explorer. I turn 2 swords to plowshares his Vet explorer and then Wasteland his Dryad Arbor. He is stuck on land now and then I play out some Thalias and a Thought-Knot Seer and then Strip Mine his original forest to seal the deal.

Gene Brumby - Grixis Storm

It was good to see Gene, we always have a good catch up. It was also fitting as the only one single game of Vintage I had ever played was at the last Representationals with Gene and 2 of his decks. We wish each other luck and we are away!

Game 1 Gene keeps 7 and I mulligan to 5! Not the start you would hope for, but a few disruptive cards and a land so we start the game. I play land and pass. Gene plays fetch, cracks it, plays Mox Jet and drops a Defense Grid. This seems ok against me as I am playing hate attached to creatures, not instants. Turn 2 I drop a wasteland and pass again. Gene does the same (not a wasteland) Turn 3 I use 2 wastelands on his mana base and he plays Ancestral recall in response, which he follows up on his turn with a Demonic Tutor. He has a large hand now plus a specific card he wants and I start to think ‘this is bad’, however, I have Chalice of the Void and have to try and play it through counters or just lose. So I lay a fourth land and tap out for Chalice on 1...NO COUNTER! I dont realise how good this is until I play Thought-Knot Seer a turn or so later and see all but one of his storm spells (rituals etc) are 1 mana. His hand is dead and after another creature added to my board, he is beaten down and I steal game 1! What an amazing game, really this format is fascinating and so different to others, even Legacy.

Game 2 and we have side boarded. I do not know his list well (or Storm in general) but figure a card like Ethersworn Canonist will be decent. Unfortunately, I only have 1, but better than nothing. Gene is a very good player and adept at Vintage so I am confidant he has seen enough of my deck to come up with a good game 2 strategy. We both keep and he leads with a Library of Alexandria. I lay a land and pass. He draws and then draws again thanks to Library (broken card btw) and lays a Tolarian Academy (also broken) I get a turn 2 and manage to drop a Cavern of Souls on Human and cast my Ethersworn Canonist! I feel pretty good here and maybe I have closed out another match...NO, don’t count your eggs before they hatch! On his way to storming turn 3, Gene plays his own sideboarded Collective Brutality to kill my canonist and then casts his way to a Tendrils of Agony with storm count of 15 making me lose 30 life - GG!

Game 3 I think we both kept, but my hand is iffy with some Elvish Spirit Guides making up my mana rather than all permanent lands. I keep with the thought that I can be explosive, I may have been wrong, but oh well...Basically I decide not to go all in and instead play a land and try to draw more...I have some wastelands and I notice Gene has stopped playing his lands after 2x Underground Seas. I leave it for a turn and then decide to kill both off, I am still unsure if waiting that 1 turn lost me the match..? After this Gene has 2 ‘off colour’ Moxen and NO lands. I play Glowrider and feel like I am getting into a good position. Gene has his turn 5 or 6...I can see he is deep in the tank and as I would want if needed, I give him the time to think it through. He thanks me for my patience. Maybe 2 minutes later he strings together an amazing line and manages to storm for 5 or so which is almost exact! What a great way to lose! 2-1 to Gene, but I have learnt more about a good deck in the format and feel positive about winning a game against such an experienced player, even after a mulligan.

Dirk Crasto - Dredge

Dirk and I have played a few matches, the last being in the finals of a casual night of Modern at Card Merchant (Lynn Mall) about 6 months before. I enjoy chatting to Dirk as he is super friendly and laid back. We briefly discuss the casual and comfortable atmosphere of the event. This is a nice thing to talk about because I know he is on dredge and that makes me very scared and uncomfortable.

Game 1 I mulligan no land and keep 6 because, well it seemed as good as it would get against Dredge game 1 on the draw - BAD! Sure enough, he Serum Powders into a new hand, lays a Bazaar of Baghdad and wins on that turn! (or maybe turn 2) Man it is quick! If you are not familiar with the decks basic strategy and how it wins, look it up on a video or something, it’s crazy!

Game 2 I keep 7 cards and he mulligans until he hits Bazaar (as you do) I didn’t draw one of my 4x sided Rest in Peace or 1 Grafdiggers Cage, but this opener seems bonkers on the play:

Thalia 2.0, Thalia 1.0, Mana Crypt, Glowrider, Cavern of Souls, Containment priest and maybe another land..?

So turn 1 I play Cavern on Humans, drop Mana Crypt and Thalia 2.0 (get bigger beater out first) Dirk plays a tapped Bazaar of Baghdad and passes back. Turn 2 I decide to go with Glowrider I think to maximise my mana usage and hope to hit a white source next turn to drop Thalia 1.0 and Containment Priest. It’s a bit of a risk, but feels right. His turn 2 is fairly uneventful which is understandable considering my board. Turn 3 I draw the fabled BLACK LOTUS and play it down cracking it for white and cast Thalia 1.0 and Containment Priest (as planned haha) This felt good and was now 9 attacking power on the board...I think he drew turn 3 and then scooped.

Game 3 was my ‘match highlight’ of the whole event! If I had thought my opener game 2 was good, I was about to be blown away! A bit of luck this great always feels nice. I keep:

Mana Crypt, Strip Mine, Black Lotus, Plains, Thalia 1.0, 2x Containment Priest

Dirk goes first of course and plays Bazaar and dredges a few cards, doesn’t get any action happening, which is lucky. My hand was bonkers sure, but on the play I could have just lost if he had drawn or dredged well turn 1.

I go turn 1 - Black Lotus, Strip Mine, Mana Crypt. Tap Crypt and sacrifice Lotus for 3x white to cast Thalia 1.0 and 1 of my 2 Containment Priest. I then finish the turn by Strip Mining his Bazaar! This was absolutely CRAZY and I felt the POWER (literally)

It is very hard, almost impossible for Dirk here at this point, however he plays on like a good player should (if there is any possible out) By turn 3 I lay a Rest in Peace and have him well down in life. Another attack step and I take the match 2-1.

Andy Geary - Animator (spicey chancellor brew)

I have not met Andy properly before and we exchange names and shake hands. He seems pretty chatty and tells me he is enjoying just playing some cards again. I feel it might be a fair match in terms of him not having played much in recent years and it being my first Vintage tournament.

Game 1 he reveals a blue and a white chancellor before the game starts, so I am milled for 10 cards and my first spell will suffer the Thalia 1.0 treatment! He then plays reanimate and puts my Thought-Knot Seer into play against me! This is some spicey play and I admire his brew in action! I also sweat because I lose one of my best cards and am staring down a 4/4 before playing my first land or spell! Anyways, he bricks a couple of turns after that and I manage to lay an Eldrazi Displacer and another threat. I use displacer during his attack phase to displace my own Thought-Knot that he is controlling. This is AWESOME for me as I draw a card and instantly get the 4/4 back on my side and THEN take the best card from his hand. He is left with little and next turn I swing for lethal!

Game 2 we both keep 7 cards. He for some reason kept a NO land hand, maybe to try discard a fatty for early default reanimate..? Anyway, Unfortunately for him I have drawn my Lotus in the opener as well as my sideboarded Rest in Peace. Turn 1 I play a land and a Lotus, sacrifice Lotus for 3 white and cast Rest in Peace and then Thalia 1.0 with my land and 1 white floating. Next turn...Andy Scoops. He still didn’t have land and said he had no way to rid of Rest in Peace? Fair enough.

I finish 5 rounds of swiss at 3-2 with a game win against both of my losses, both actual Vintage Players. I take this as a positive first result and realise that with a bit more tuning and my newly gained experience, my deck and plays still have a lot of room to improve.

Changes to the list I would make for next time:

I really missed having a Mox Pearl. This is the crucial missing piece. It allows another avenue for all the relevant and back breaking Turn 1 plays...Thalia 1.0, Containment Priest, Rest in Peace, Ethersworn Canonist, Spirit of the Labyrinth etc etc. On top of a $1000-$1500 artifact the deck definitely NEEDS the 3rd and 4th Containment Priest. The 3rd definitely goes into the main deck and the 4th either main or side depending on the meta you expect. This card is SO good in Vintage, more so than Legacy I feel (of course this is based on my limited knowledge) It shuts down or at least messes with: Oath decks, Animator, Dredge, Dark Depths, Tinker...Basically any deck that plays a creature bigger than 4 or 5 mana (Eldrazi casting these 4 and 5 drops) is cheating into play and lots of them seem to want to do this. I am undecided on the Spirit of Labyrinth in terms of how many and where they sit whether in side or main. It feels like a card that if it doesn’t make the main, it may not make the side. The 4th Phyrexian Revoker in the main deck is necessary for sure. Ethersworn canonist should probably go up to 3 in the side. It is similar in effect to Spirit of the Labyrinth (slows draw and combo decks) in terms of gameplay but is a HUMAN, which is very important with Caverns and coloured mana in the deck. I never got to play Eldrazi or Shops and still have not. My plan for them was obviously Swords to Plowshares and the Stoneforge package. Whether that works out in this decks favour, I have to test, but in my head those matches feel hard. Palace Jailer didn’t see much action, but he still felt good in the deck the 1 or 2 times I saw him. Maybe in conjunction with Mox Pearl, I would look to run 2 in the 75 list. I'm sure it helps against the Shops and Eldrazi matchup and is actually quite good against the blue decks. Being a human, he can be uncounterable with Caverns and played early with acceleration, even turn 1 and more likely turn 2. He then draws you an extra card every turn as most blue decks are not going to ‘Take the Crown’ from you early in a game. Elvish Spirit Guide started out as my ‘poor man’s fast mana’ but actually felt really good! I might cut to 3 if playing a Mox Pearl in future, but the fact is doesn’t get taxed by your 9-10 Thalia effects makes it feel pretty smooth. It also allows the odd (once a tournament perhaps) ambush with Containment priest if a deck trying to ‘cheat’ thinks it has a window with you only being on 1 mana...  

I hung around till the end to watch the Top 4 and chat a bit more with James. There were some great games and the final was no exception. Matt Rogers and Vincent Ashman battled it out hard with Vincent on UW Landstill Vs Matt’s Grixis control deck. Both players played really well and Matt just managed to take the match at the end. Well done to both of these guys!

20180106_163605.jpg

Overall conclusion..? Vintage is amazing and you should try it sometime, whether it is proxies with your mates, non powered decks for casual games at your LGS or maybe you are lucky enough to own some power and a vintage deck or 2...The 2018 MTG ADEPT Representationals in Christchurch this May 18th - 20th will have Vintage on the Friday night. We will have an original Mana Drain for the winner and a special prize for the highest NON powered deck. It will not allow proxies, so this prize structure should incentivise a few of you to show up with non powered decks just for the experience of Vintage. This is what I did for this event and I ended up being lent a Black Lotus! I would like to finish by saying a few thank yous. A BIG thank you to James White for putting on such a great and generous event! It really refreshed playing Magic for me personally and I appreciate how much he gave for this event. Another thank you to the other 17 players who showed up from all over the country to support this event and play some sweet games for a sweet prize. To be honest I expected more people to show up for such a great prize and experience, but hey, your loss if you were not there and could have been.

Hope to see you all soon at the 2018 MTG ADEPT Representationals and maybe we can have a sneaky game of VINTAGE!

p.s. My mates 30th was a blast and one of the best ways to finish up an already brilliant day!